Mike Tranghese and Mr. Slate
For the late baby boomers many of life's lessons were learned from watching reruns of the Flintstones. One in particular comes to mind when considering the recently announced retirement of Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese. Most of the early reaction was positive, with a few critical voices, giving Mike credit or blame for the building and saving the conference. Most pundits/bloggers have the same view of Mike Tranghese in the same naïve way Fred viewed his boss Mr. Slate. Fred had the idea that the boss had total control so to teach him a lesson Gazoo has Fred become boss for the day. After learning the pressures of dealing with the board of director and only getting a carrot to eat, Fred willingly returns to his job in the quarry.
Mike Tranghese (MT) is at the same time powerful and weak as while he is the face of the conference he has a group of college presidents with competing goals and has grown that complexity to 16 points of view. Was it Mike fault that Donna Shalala pledged allegiance to the Big East and then canoodled with John Swofford looking for a better deal (Ms. Shalala in turn was feeling the pressure from her bosses)? In fact, this blog may have been wrong in characterizing MT as being asleep at the helm. The cause might have been that collective stupidity or more politely short sightedness of the members and the problems posed by the hybrid nature of the Big East.
Equally MT had little to do with the redemption of the league with the 2006 Sugar Bowl win by West Virginia over Georgia. That said, MT kept the league together long enough for the football fortunes of the Big East to turn the corner and save the highly prized BCS slot. For good of bad the hard work in any business is usually done behind the scenes and with just a little thought and consideration we must grant MT his due in being the master juggler of college sports.